As the Warriors put a beat down on the Houston Rockets, James Harden lay sprawled in front of his team’s bench who were on the brink of elimination. That image and the carefree look on “the Beard’s” face for many summed up what had been the most disappointing season in recent history.
With just 2:59 remaining in their season, down 28 points to the Golden State Warriors, cameras caught James Harden laying in front of the Houston Rockets bench. Just short of one year earlier this same opponent had ended their season, but this time around everything was different.
First, the man who James Harden had battled all season for MVP honors had not only played every game in the series, but had been pivotal to orchestrating the Warriors win. Curry had also suffered a bad spill last season, but returned to the court and missed no games in the series. What many seem to forget is how close the Rockets came to splitting the opening series. Inevitably the miracle season of 2014-15 came to an end with the Rockets promising next year they would take another step forward.
— FanSided (@FanSided) April 24, 2016
Note: the various memes below appeared on The Starters (see youtube video below as well and FF to 12:06 for segment) but individually from reddit: (@reddit, Bleacher Report: @BleacherReport and a couple from MarcusD @_MarcusD_
Last year seemed magical for many in Red Nation, as if fate had dictated something greater. Mired with injury the Rockets were barely able to mount a full squad through the first half of the season and yet inexplicably kept winning.
Players who other teams didn’t want arrived in Houston to open arms and performed with renewed vigor. Howard returned from injury with an open mind, willing to do whatever was asked for the betterment of the team. And a young Swiss rookie played like a grizzled vet registering more appearances in the playoffs then he did in the regular season.
Even the manner in which the Rockets arrived to the 2015 WCF was the stuff movie plots are made of. Down 19 headed for elimination the Rockets rallied in Los Angeles and mounted one of the most thrilling comebacks in playoff history to stay alive. The fact Harden remained on the bench for the entirety of the crazy run should possibly have signaled the impending issues Houston would endure this year.
Harden like he did this season had carried the team, but the result was a much higher second seed in the ever competitive Western Conference. Yet, the question many will ask is whether part of the troubles this season came from Harden’s inability to adapt. Was the team suffering because Harden had become so use to doing everything? Had he inadvertently rendered the Rockets solvable?
Certainly his inability to allow others more involvement made the Rockets appear listless more often than not. Plus there were visible on court issues as teammates would stand with frowns watching Harden over dribble until deciding to hoist a shot, or pass to them with mere ticks remaining on the shot clock.
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD_) April 24, 2016
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD_) April 24, 2016
Oddly it feels as if this season and last season should have been reversed. Last season the team overcame so much adversity including their deep run without the services of Patrick Beverley or Donatas Motiejunas. Even with a full roster this season the team never could sustain extended success.
Most assuredly, this off season requires a face lift. Logically interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff and one half of the All-Stars (Howard) brought to Houston to make a title run will be the gone. More cuts, trades and free agents will surely exit and enter.
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In the interim there are two things James Harden needs to focus on this summer. Utilizing the embarrassing thrashing the Rockets ended their season with as motivation to improve and discussion with various players, mentors, coaches etc to figure out a way he can lead next season’s squad back to relevance.
And if what happened this year can’t provide the spark necessary, he can always pull up one of the many meme’s that flooded social media immediately following the end of their season. If that doesn’t do the trick, perhaps it’s time for management to reconsider who should be at the helm of the Houston Rockets.
Make sure you check out Space City Scoops end of season Rockets Round Table: